Just the Tarot Posts

The Moon Card, Insanity, and 40 Rolls of Toilet Paper

Moving toward a new definition of normality after the pandemic.

So . . . we appear to be coming out of the other end of the corona virus pandemic.  After a year plus of being told to stay home, live in isolation, and wear masks, we’re being told that it’s at least semi okay to start to take off the masks and socialize a bit.  It’s rational to have some hope that we’re not all going to die horrible deaths in understaffed Intensive Care Units.

Huzzah!  Now we can get back to normal!

The question that I’ve been dealing with lately is what exactly IS, “normal?”  And, secondarily, did I ever really, truly KNOW what normal is?  Because it appears to me, in looking back over the past year, that a whole lot of people are a whole lot crazier than I ever thought they were.

The Moon is, “the crazy card,” in the Tarot.  It represents insanity, delusions, illusions, self-deception.  The juxtaposition of the dog and the wolf howling at the moon show us that our evolution from pure animal state was not that long ago.  The crawfish crawling out of the water shows our most primitive, prehistoric state of being emerging from its murky depths.

We’ve seen a lot of murky depths and de-evolution over the last year.  Two things stand out in particular.

The first is The Great Toilet Paper Insanity of 2020.  We, as a society, received the news that we were faced with a horrible epidemic that could kill millions and millions of people.  A virulent plague such as the world hadn’t seen in a hundred years.  Humans were dying like flies in a cosmic spider web in China, Italy, New York, and no end was in sight.  

And our response was . . . BUY TOILET PAPER!!!  Lots and lots and lots of toilet paper.  Buy so much toilet paper that the shelves of grocery stores would be stripped of the stuff for months.  Buy more toilet paper than we could use in five years. If elderly people and weak people who couldn’t shoulder their ways into the head of the line didn’t have any toilet paper because we’d bought it all . . . well, FUCK them!

It was truly insane in the real definition of the word.  You can’t eat toilet paper.  You can’t heat your house with toilet paper.  You can’t wrap your shivering body in toilet paper during the freezing winter months.  Toilet paper – to a sane mind – has a very limited value in our overall lives.  It’s good for wiping our asses and blowing our noses.  Period.

Yet, in a matter of just a few weeks, people had been hypnotized into believing that it was the most valuable commodity on earth.  And it was a truly bipartisan hypnosis.  This wasn’t just a bunch of far right, neo-conservative survivalists hoarding toilet paper.  I have friends on social media who are life-long, foaming at the mouth, liberal-progressives who were proudly posting pictures of the two hundred rolls of toilet paper they had stashed in their hall closets.

Huh . . . who could have seen that coming?  In all of the post-apocalyptic movies we’ve seen, in all of the creepy end-of-civilization Stephen King novels we’ve read, has anyone EVER mentioned toilet paper?  Was there EVER a scene of a howling mob breaking into a grocery store and killing each other over . . . toilet paper?

Not.

The second, much darker, much more disturbing scenario that emerged was the embrace of the, “herd,”  vision of humanity, particularly as it applied to frail people and old people.  At a certain point, the medical model of the virus that emerged was that it was very likely to kill older people and people with pre-existing health problems, less likely to kill healthy middle aged people, and unlikely to kill younger people.

Using that knowledge base, a pretty brutal theory emerged:  for the sake of, “the herd,” it would be better if older people and sick people were exposed to the virus and just . . . you know . . . died.  The Lieutenant Governor of Texas actually said that it was somehow the DUTY of older people to get out there, get exposed to the virus and die, because that would get the economy open faster and there, “are more important things than living.”   

Strong evidence has emerged that the anti-mask movement that many of us found so puzzling was never about, “political freedom,” at all.  It was about ensuring that the maximum number of people would be exposed to the virus as quickly as possible in order to achieve “herd immunity.”

Now, that’s basically one small step down from Nazi eugenics.  It’s a theory that views humans as a herd, rather than as individuals.  If there are members of the herd who are sick or old, they need to be, “culled,” out so that the herd will stay healthy and vital.  Yes, millions of people will die, but think how much healthier we’ll be AS A WHOLE after all of them are dead!

It’s exactly the same mentality that led the Nazis to proclaim that, “the Herd,” (the Master Race) would be SO much better after we eliminated the Jews, the Blacks, the Gypsies and pretty much anyone who wasn’t a pure aryan, whatever the hell that is.  If you’re willing to expose people to a virus that you KNOW is going to kill them, that’s essentially a gas chamber mentality.

The salient point, of course, is that we AREN’T a herd.  We’re a society.  One of the hallmarks of virtually all societies is that they take care of people who are old and ill, they don’t just kill them.  We don’t toss Grandma into a lake with a cinder block around her neck because she’s become a bit of a pain in the ass.  We don’t execute people because they’ve got cancer.

So, yes, in reviewing this last year, I have to conclude that there are a whole bunch of us who are pretty fucking nuts.  And some of us are pretty fucking nuts and pretty fucking brutal.

The question is –  being realistic and acknowledging those facts – where do we go with that knowledge?  How do we react to the idea that the lunatics seem to be running a large part of the asylum?  Do we withdraw and hide?  Do we view other people with contempt or fear?

The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is to just react with compassion.  

In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) don Miguel Ruiz points out that many people are barely conscious.  They’ve been programmed by their parents, their churches, their schools, and society at large to NOT think.  To NOT question their values or their reality.  They just get wound up like little robots when they’re children and they go through their lives never really waking up.  In essence, they’re Sleep Walkers, stumbling around in the darkness and not even having their own dreams.

When we see something like The Great Toilet Paper Insanity of 2020, it just reinforces that truth.  If your response to a life threatening situation is to grab as much toilet paper as you can, you’re not thinking, you’re not reasoning, you’re not even awake.  And that is sad and that deserves compassion.

If your response to a life threatening situation is to view other humans as being somehow expendable so that you have a better chance to live, as mere members of a herd, then you’re cut off from love, from empathy, from basic human decency, and you’re living in fear.  And that is sad and that deserves compassion.

 What I believed to be, “normal human behavior,” has turned out to be a pretty thin veneer over a LOT of crazy shit. I’m probably going to be a little more cautious around my fellow humans after this, a little less open and willing to believe that we have a common vision of the world.  But I also know I’m going to be a lot more compassionate toward them.

And that’s a good thing.  Hell, I’d trade 40 rolls of toilet paper for a little more compassion.

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Happiness, Capitalists, Yellow Rocks, and Radical Meditators

Most people who are on a Spiritual Path eventually come to hold beliefs which conservatives consider, “politically radical.”  It’s ironic, because most people who are on a Spiritual Path have very little interest in politics, except to casually observe it as another form of human insanity.

When I use the term, “radical,” I mean it in its original use from the latin word, “radix,” or root, as in, “the root of a plant.”  To get radical is to get at the very root of something, to get to the place that it all grows out of, so to speak.

Let’s take the example of the Six of Pentacles.  It shows a richly dressed man, scattering coins to beggars, and holding a scale so that he can measure exactly what he’s giving away.

You couldn’t ask for a better representation of the, “scarcity,” view of life that’s at the root of our society.  There simply isn’t enough wealth to go around and some people have it and some people don’t.  Those who DO have it, should share it with those who don’t have it, but they need to be very, very careful about not giving too much away, because there’s never really enough.

In real time, we see that happening with the gazillionaires who live in penthouses, fly around in private jets, take vacations on yachts, and are DESPERATELY WORRIED that poor people might be getting too many food stamps.  Having enough to eat without working for it at minimum wage jobs is bad for their character, doncha know?  Makes them lazy and dependent.  Pass the champagne, darling . . .

As we move into a deeper level of spirituality, though, we begin to understand that there’s another model for looking at life, which is the, “abundance,” view.  The Universe and Mother Earth seem to be richly, almost insanely, abundant.  There are enough seeds in one tomato to plant an entire farm.  There are enough sperm cells in one tablespoon of semen to repopulate the world.  Women’s bodies produce far more eggs than they could ever bear as babies.  And, yes, we could produce enough food to feed every hungry person in the world.

And we begin to realize that the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough, the problem is that some people are spiritually sick and want far more than their share of the abundance.  Even worse, they want to be sure that other people have less than THEIR share, because they believe in their hearts that wealth is scarce and if they have more wealth, they’re better than other people.

Eckhart Tolle talks about this quite a bit in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Oprah’s Book Club, Selection 61)  In a nutshell, the Ego always wants more STUFF, because the Ego believes that the more STUFF it has, the more important it is.  And, as a part of that contrast, if you’ve got less stuff than I have, then I’m just that much more important!  If I drive a BMW and you drive a Honda, I’m better than you.  If you have a two hundred dollar computer and mine cost five thousand, then I’m better than you.  If I live in a McMansion and you live in a trailer, then I’m better than you.

And so we get hypnotized into this weird dance of thinking that our STUFF makes us, “better people.”  But, as Tolle points out, it’s just a sugar rush, not real nutrition.  Yes, the new computer (or car or house or jewelry) makes us happy for a while, but then it doesn’t anymore.  So we have to buy more and more and more stuff to keep getting that rush, but somehow happiness keeps slipping away from us every time.  

If we keep walking down the Spiritual Path we realize that the STUFF doesn’t really make us happy, not for long.  As we continue to evolve, we start to get a glimpse of happiness WITHOUT the stuff.  Maybe that revelation comes to us in our meditations or our dreams or journals, but we begin to get just a glimmer that the material stuff really has very little to do with happiness.  We can actually BE HAPPY anytime that we want to and we don’t need a new computer to get there.

And that, my friends, is a RADICAL idea!  That goes right to the root of our whole economic system and way of life.  It short circuits the entire capitalist system which is based on consumers being convinced that they need to keep consuming STUFF in order to be happy.  If we quit buying all of that crap that doesn’t really make us happy, then the gazillionaires who are selling us all of that crap that doesn’t really make us happy are going to lose a lot of money.  

Dangerous, dangerous thinking!  LOL – it really is.  It’s why they killed Jesus.  “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.”  WHAT????  Kill that guy!  Quickly!

The point is that as we explore and grow spiritually, our values change and we become less and less in synch with society as whole.  We realize that, ultimately, what all of us want is love and happiness.  And we realize that love and happiness flow out of our hearts, not our possessions.  Possessions and materialism itself start to feel like a form of insanity, which it can easily become.

Consider the example of the genocide committed against Native Tribes in the United States.  We killed hundreds of thousands of Tribal Peoples in the Dakotas and Northern California because they were sitting on land that contained gold.

From their point of view, we were totally out of our minds because NO ONE HAD TOLD THEM THAT GOLD ISN’T JUST A ROCK.  Why kill someone over a rock?  Which, by the way, it IS just a rock.  You can’t eat it.  You can’t fertilize your fields with it.  You can’t make clothing out of it. Other than being pretty, gold is totally useless.

Except that somewhere, thousands of years ago, some asshole said, “I have this pretty yellow rock and you don’t, so I’m better than you.”  Since that original asshole, wars have been fought, untold numbers of people have been tortured and killed, and whole civilizations have been decimated, all because some people wanted to have ALL of the pretty, yellow rocks. 

 It really is monumentally nuts, when you think about it.

It’s my fervent hope that, as we move out of the ego-based scarcity model and into the new spiritual paradigm, we’ll see materialism begin to wither on the vine.  Contrary to their paranoia, that doesn’t mean we need to have a revolution and take all of the rich people’s stuff away from them. There’s plenty to go around and if their yellow rocks make them feel better, so be it.  

That’s abundance.

That’s radical.

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The Empress, Conservative Cavemen, and Getting Back to Our Magical Garden

Recovering a sense of physical safety in the world.

I’ve posted in before about the importance of recovering a sense of spiritual safety and of recovering a sense of safety about our own subconscious minds.  Today I’d like to share a little about recovering a sense of physical safety.

What if I were to tell you that 99% of people are perfectly safe 99% of the time?

Does that sound a little weird and uncomfortable to you?  It certainly did to me, when I first stumbled over the idea.  After all, we KNOW that the world is a terribly dangerous place.  Just look at all of the earthquakes and floods and tsunamis and GIGANTIC FUCKING ICEBERGS that are dropping off of the polar caps like fleas!  Not to mention the wars and famine and terrorists and horrible car accidents and planes full of terrorists flying into towers full of innocent people.

Yikes!

In fact, double yikes or even yikes to the fourth power, which is a pretty big YIKES!

But . . . stop and think about it for a few minutes.  How long has it been since you were smack in the middle of a 7.5 earthquake?  Or a massive flood?  Or you got swept away by a tsunami?  Or had an iceberg collide with the ocean liner you were on?

The astounding truth of the matter is that – by far and away – MOST of us get up in the morning, drive to work or take care of our homes, raise our children, plan for our retirements, take vacations, go about our lives and . . . NOTHING BAD HAPPENS.  Nothing.  We’re perfectly safe 99% of the time.

So why do we all have this creepy feeling of impending doom, of something horrible that’s going to happen to us right around the corner?  And why does it matter?

The Empress card in the Tarot shows someone who is absolutely, perfectly at ease in her world.  She reclines gracefully on her beautiful couch, surrounded by natural abundance.  Her head is crowned with stars and she grasps a scepter of power, but holds it very casually.  Her legs are slightly parted, as if she might welcome a little company on her couch, and her face radiates a quiet, peace.  She is the Goddess in Paradise.  

That is EXACTLY the vibration that we should have in our world, here on the beautiful Earth Mother.  We have evolved here over hundreds of thousands of years and this is our home.  In the words of the Desiderata:

“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

We might find a clue as to why so many of us don’t feel safe in our Magical Earth Home hiding in our brain structure.  The limbic system of our brain is set up to trigger massive amounts of stress hormones when our fight or flight reaction is activated.  Nick Ortner,in his book The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living, posits what he calls a, “negative brain bias.”  His thinking is that our ancestors who were the most frightened were also the ones who were most likely to survive.  To use his example, the caveman who thought the rustling in the bushes might be a tiger was more likely to live than the one who assumed it was a harmless squirrel.  And so, the more frightened, constantly freaked-out cavemen and cavewomen would have been the most likely to pass on their genes and – shazam! – we all have, “Holy crap is that a tiger in the bushes?” reactions built into our brains, even if we’re actually surrounded by harmless squirrels.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Psychological studies suggest that conservatives have a negative brain bias, but liberals do not.  In a nutshell, if you show a bunch of pictures of gardens to both conservatives and liberals, conservatives will pick out the creepy spiders and snakes in the pictures and liberals will pick out the pretty butterflies and flowers.  In other words, conservative cavemen were the ones who heard tigers in the bushes and liberal cavemen were the ones who heard squirrels.

And, if Ortner’s hypothesis were true, all of the liberals should have been eaten by tigers, but there are still a bunch of us around watching the butterflies and smelling the flowers.

Which suggests that a negativity bias really isn’t built into our brains.  It was acquired.  Where did it come from, then?

A lot of it comes from social programming, of course.  It has long been a part of Judeo-Christian philosophy that the Earth was, “given to man,” by God and we’re supposed to control it and everything in it.  We have to, “conquer mother-nature,” in order to survive and build more hamburger stands and condos and parking lots and Walmart Super Stores.  God wants us to.  When you view nature as something to be conquered, then nature – earth itself – becomes an enemy, rather than our Mother and home.

Then there’s politics.  Think of what we’ve been hearing from our politicians for the last four years.  BE AFRAID!  Be very, very, very, very afraid of Mexicans and Knee-Grows, and Arabs and Jews and Chinese and lesbians and socialists and feminists and communists and . . . well . . . pretty much anyone who looks or sounds or thinks differently than we do.  Every single one of them wants to Destroy Our Way of Life, rape our daughter, and steal our dog.

A certain amount of the fear comes from the globalization of information.  We see things on the internet and our televisions that we would have been totally unaware of a short evolutionary time ago.  If there are riots in Portland, train crashes in Pakistan, or bombings in Yemen, we are aware of that now.  It’s all become a part of our daily lives.  The work that’s being done with mirror neurons suggests that human beings are highly empathetic.  If we see other people in pain or distress, we internalize that pain as our own, and we are being exposed to a LOT more people in pain than has ever been normal for the human race.

All of these factors – plus a lot more than could be covered in a blog post – have combined to create a massive illusion, a sort of a group hypnosis, where the world is perceived as a horribly dangerous place that could kill us at any moment.  And, really, it’s not.  

99% of the time, it’s perfectly safe for 99% of us.

Hopefully we can begin to stop the insanity and start EXPANDING that safety and peace to as many other humans as we can.  Stop the wars, feed the hungry, eliminate corruption and greed, declare AS A SPECIES that racism and religious fanaticism will no longer be tolerated.  

But first we need to recover that sense of safety in our own hearts and heads.  We need to return to our home in the magical garden and become The Empress again.

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The Four of Swords, Sigmund Freud, and the Case of the Disappearing Clitoris

The role of Sigmund Freud in removing magic from our dreams.

Do you feel safe when you go to sleep at night?

Do you really look forward to getting a wonderful, full night’s sleep and waking up feeling restored, refreshed, and re-created?

Do you actually look forward to going to sleep because you know there’s a good possibility that you’re going to have wonderful, magical dreams that will put you in touch with Spirit World and give you greater guidance, understanding, and insight in your life?

And, if not, why not?

For most of human history, sleep has been seen as a deeply restorative, healing process.  We still recognize that fact in many of our behaviors.  If you’re sick, stay in bed.  If you’re really upset, get a good night’s sleep and you’ll feel better in the morning.  

And, for most of human history, sleep has also been recognized as a spiritual experience.  Dreams weren’t just dreams, they were omens, portents, messages from the gods or the angels.  Dreams were a unique path to the realm of the divine that ALL of us – each and every man, woman and child – possessed and no one could take them away from us or claim ownership of them.

The Four of Swords in the Tarot deck points toward that truth.  The individual in the card is so profoundly, deeply asleep that he almost looks as if he’s dead.  The definition of the card is one of intense healing through the vehicle of resting the mind and body.  His hands are clasped in prayer and there is a stained glass window above him, reminding us of that spiritual connection with the divine that we achieve through sleep.

Yet, over 60% of Americans report that they’ve fallen asleep with their cell phones in their hands.  That’s not exactly preparing for a spiritual, rejuvenating experience is it?

So what happened?  Why have we lost that connection with the higher dream realms in our modern culture?  One might argue that Sigmund Freud happened.  Here’s how Arianna Huffington expressed it in The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

“With the work of Sigmund Freud, dreams went from being a unique way of accessing divine knowledge to being a unique way of accessing self-knowledge.  Dreams were still a journey, but they became less of a sacred journey.”  

To really get the significance of that shift in thinking we have to consider the word, “permeable.”  Permeable means, “porous,” or something that will allow other things to pass through it.  Humans had always considered the subconscious space that we experience in our dreams as being permeable.  Other beings, gods, angels, spirits could pass in and out of our dreams, communicating with us and leaving messages, symbols, and lessons.  Our dreams, then, were a sort of a royal road to the divine, to regions that we were unable to access in our daily lives.

Freud, however, saw the subconscious mind as an impermeable, closed system.  It didn’t contain or allow access to ANYTHING but the content of our own minds.  Even more significant, the content that was stored in our subconscious minds and came out in our dreams were the worst parts of us, the parts of us that were so horrible, so primitive, so nasty that we couldn’t even deal with them on a conscious basis.

You know . . . sex.

Freud was, after all, a Victorian, and Victorians were probably the most sexually repressed, puritanical beings who have ever walked the earth.  When you boil down Freud’s views to their essence, they are ALL about sex.  We want it, we can’t have it, we feel guilty about it, we repress our desires into the subconscious, and then the repressed desires bite us in the ass and make us crazy.

Now, in that context – where EVERYTHING is about sex, the very character and quality of our dreams are changed.  If everything is about sex, then our dreams MUST be about our repressed sexual desires.  And if they appear to NOT be about our repressed sexual desires, that’s because we haven’t really INTERPRETED them right.

“I dreamed I was on a train, Doctor Freud.”

“That’s actually a penis.”

“Oh . . . um . . . alright . . . it sure SEEMED like a train, though.  It had a dining car.”

“That’s your sexual appetite.”

“I had scrambled eggs.”

“You want to fertilize your wife’s eggs.”

“And I had a biscuit.”

“The biscuit represents your wife’s buttocks.”

“Oh, my . . . couldn’t it just be a biscuit?”

“No, no, NO!  I’m telling you, you weren’t having breakfast, you were having sex with your wife and you got her pregnant with your giant train penis!”

“Oh, dear . . .”

And so, if an angel appears in our dreams, that’s just someone we want to have sex with.  Or a demon.  Or a horse or a dog or a doughnut or a tortilla.  We pretty much want to fuck all of them.

Kind of takes the magic out of dreams, doesn’t it?

In historical perspective we can look back at Sigmund Freud and realize that he was pretty much of a nut case.  In his book,Freud: The Making of an Illusion, Frederick Crews points out that Freud was a lifelong cocaine addict, that he cheated on his wife with his wife’s sister,  and that at one point he was thoroughly convinced that women had a pleasure center in their noses that caused them to masturbate uncontrollably when it was malfunctioning.

Nonetheless, the man cast a LONG and evil shadow.  Freud decided at one point that he wanted to have sex with his mother and so he posited that every male must also want to have sex with their mothers and – shazam! – the Oedipal complex was born and analyzed and analyzed and analalyzed. 

At another point, he decided – without the benefit of being a woman or talking to women about it – that only vaginal orgasms were REAL orgasms because only they had to do with reproduction.  Clitoral orgasms, on the other hand, were somehow fake or immature orgasms and so clitorises were pretty much ignored until Masters and Johnson, “rediscovered,” them decades later.

In very much the same sense, we are STILL suffering from his staggeringly wrong interpretation of the subconscious.  It is entirely possible to have a dream about a train and have it just be about a train.  It’s also possible to have a dream about an angel, and actually have it be about an angel.

Let’s sleep on it.

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The Knight of Swords, Fight or Flight, and Getting Frumious Bandersnatches Out of Our Heads

Ending the endless cycle of stress.

I had a, “learning dream,” about the Knight of Swords last night and it was very interesting.  Learning dreams – for me at least – are quite different from ordinary dreams.  They’re dreams that answer questions that we really need solutions to, and sometimes we don’t even know it.  In my world, they’re instructions from Spirit Guides and Mentors who are helping me along my path.  In your world, you may see them as a sort of intuitive understanding of truths that have eluded you in waking life.

The Knight of Swords shows a Knight in full armor, sword extended, in a balls out gallop.  It’s a totally concentrated, furious charge toward whatever he or she means to conquer.  If you look carefully, you’ll see that the eyes of the horse are rolled backward, as if to say, “Okay, you’ve got the spurs, you’re in charge, but WHAT IN THE FUCK are you doing?”

Now, aggression is a perfectly normal part of human life, so much so that the Tarots suit of swords can be seen as representing a variety of aggressive ego states.  Aggression is, after all, one half of the famous Fight or Flight reaction.  There are times when it seems that we have no choice but to fight to defend ourselves or to stand up for what we consider to be right.  

But what happens when we get, “stuck,” in that reaction?  What happens when we live in a state of Fight or Flight?

Well, we start to break down and fall apart.  Our bodies are constantly flooded with stress hormones and we develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and sleep deficits.  Our minds become paranoid, habitually anxious, and we start to feel increasingly isolated and alone.  It’s not pretty.

The revelation that came to me in my dreams last night is that there are really two elements operating in concert when we get stuck in Fight or Flight. The first is the internal dialogue.   Buddhists refer to that as, “monkey mind,” the constant, chattering thoughts that will really mess up your meditation sessions.  Eckhart Tolle discusses it quite a bit in terms of, “ego,” which he views as a sort of an artificial construct of the mind that was a result of a wrong turn in our evolution.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s there:  an endless stream of thoughts that tend to operate just below the level of our conscious control.  And we really can’t do much about that.  As Emily Fletcher says in Stress Less, Accomplish More: The 15-Minute Meditation Programme for Extraordinary Performance the mind thinks involuntarily in the same way that the heart beats involuntarily.  Thoughts are a natural by-product of the mind, in the same way that waves are a natural by-product of the ocean.

The second element in a stuck Fight or Flight reaction is the body, that wonderful amalgam of proteins and hormones and electrons that’s constantly whizzing around creating and recreating our physical selves.  More specifically, we’re talking about that part of the body that’s intimately connected with Fight or Flight, the amygdala in the brain and the stress hormones.

When we’re confronted with something that the brain interprets as being dangerous, the amygdala jumps up and screams, “Holy Shit!  Watch out!  It’s a Frumious Bandersnatch!”  And then our brain dumps about 80 million gallons of adrenaline and cortisol into our systems, our blood pressure shoots up, we become hyper-focussed and we’re ready, by god, to fight!

All of that’s good when we’re confronting Bandersnatches and Jabberwocks and we need to stay alive.  But we were never meant to live in Fight or Flight for extended periods of time.  We were meant to engage in intense physical activity – fighting or running – that burns up the adrenaline and the cortisol rapidly and allows us to return to a normal state of consciousness. 

When we live through an extended period of stress – military combat or a marriage from hell or taking care of a loved one who is dying by inches for years – then the Fight or Flight reaction becomes habitual.  It becomes our normal way of behaving and of perceiving the world.

It becomes a self-feeding cycle that operates independently of what’s really going on in our world.

The first thing that happens is that the quality of our internal dialogues change.  We begin to see the world, “through a glass darkly,” and it shows up in the quiet chatter at the backs of our minds.

My life is so fucked up.

I can’t get a break.

I’m such a loser.

Why does this shit keep happening to me?

The kicker is that the Fight or Flight system in our brains is so ancient that it’s literally pre-verbal.  It evolved long, long before we developed speech or nuances in thought.  So it’s not hearing, “the world was a dangerous place,” or, “I’m having obsessive thoughts about something that’s over.”  All it’s hearing is, “There is danger,” and it’s continually dumping more and more stress hormones into our bodies so that we can respond to the danger.

And there’s a feed-back loop that starts up.  Our bodies are incredibly stressed from the hormones and our brains pick up that stress and interpret it as, “Something’s wrong.  Something’s dangerous.”  Which in turn makes the amygdala jump up and scream, “Holy Shit!  It must be another Frumious Bandersnatch!  Dump some more stress hormones!”

At a certain point it really does become almost like an independent, autonomous personality that we can’t control any longer.  Our circumstances may change completely.  We may be OUT of combat, we may have divorced the horrible, abusive spouse, we may have gone through the death of a partner and emerged on the other side of the grief.  But that Fight or Flight personality just keeps on trucking.

The problem is two pronged – the inner dialogue and the body – and so the solution needs to be two pronged.  First of all, we need to be very, very conscious of our inner dialogue and start transforming it.  It’s like a radio operating at a very low volume that we only half hear.  TURN IT UP.  Listen to it.  Start flipping every negative thought into a positive affirmation.  When we can turn that constant stream of negatives into a constant stream of positives, it interrupts the self-feeding cycle and starts to shut down the stress reaction.

Second, soothe the hell out of our bodies.  I mean that literally.  If we’ve lived through years of stress, our bodies are pretty tortured by it.  Take the time for hot baths, listen to quiet, peaceful music, take naps, lie in the grass, visualize beautiful scenes, masturbate or make love, BE GENTLE.  The more we soothe our bodies, the fewer stress hormones we’ll have.  The fewer stress hormones we have, the more our inner dialogues will change to healthy, grateful thoughts.

Like any big change in behavior, it can feel very complicated at first, but it’s not.  It’s really just a matter of transforming ourselves into the kinds of people that we’d LOVE to live with.  Because . . . you know . . . we are the people we live with, and who wants to live with a depressed roommate?

The Knight of Cups and Love as a Class Room

Developing a healthier model for love and romance.

The Tarot suit of Cups is the suit of emotions and particularly of love, the grandest of all of the emotions.  The Knight of Cups shows a Knight riding forth on a quest, his cup extended in front of him.  He’s on a quest of some sort having to do with love, but we can’t see the contents of his cup. 

 Is it full of love that he wants to share with someone else?

Or is it empty and he wants someone to fill it for him?

Kind of a crap shoot, isn’t it?  And it’s pretty much like what we go through when we start a new relationship.  The other person is on his or her best behavior and we can feel quite certain that their armor is buffed to a high polish and their horse has been carefully groomed.  They look mighty good at first glance.  But what’s going on with that cup?  Are they full or are they empty?  Do they have something to share or do they want us to somehow fill up their emptiness?  Or maybe a little bit of both. . .

There is also, of course, the ass end of relationships, where they’ve ended, our hearts have been broken, and we’re recovering and trying to move on.  In the Tarot, that’s represented by the Three of Hearts reversed, showing that our hearts have been pierced with pain but the swords are falling out and the pain is going away.

Oddly, those two phases – the quest for love and the end of love – are very intimately connected in our culture. They’re connected with what we might call the, “til death do us part,” model of love.  The idea is that love is for life, that it’s a permanent, life-time commitment.  

Of course, the divorce statistics tell us – plain and simple – that that’s a bullshit idea.  Most relationships are NOT for life and about fifty percent of them end up in parting.

Still, we cling to that idea that a romantic relationship is for a lifetime. That belief causes us unbelievable amounts of pain when reality rears its’ ugly head and we have to split the sheets with someone we loved.  And then we beat the hell out of ourselves.

What went wrong?

What’s wrong with me?

Am I just totally unloveable?

Louise Hay, in her wonderful book, You Can Heal Your Life ,proposed a different model of love that takes away a lot of the pain, and it’s just a matter of having a different perspective on relationships.  And a different perspective on ourselves.

“Being needy is the best way to find an unhealthy relationship.”  Louise Hay.

That’s a pretty powerful statement when we take the time to think about it because it focuses straight onto the question of why we feel that we need (as opposed to want) a romantic relationship.  What is it that we’re trying to get from the other person?  Why is it that we feel so devastated when we don’t get it?

She suggests a simple exercise:  get out a pen and a pad of paper and make a list of all of the qualities that you want in your lover.  What should he or she be to make you feel fulfilled?  

Compassion?

Tenderness?

Strength?

Humor?

Empathy?

Now flip it around and ask yourself:  how much of those qualities do I have toward myself?  Do I treat myself with compassion?  With tenderness?  Am I strong and reassuring to myself?  Can I see the humor in my life and laugh out loud when it’s just me here?  Do I really have empathy and understanding for my self?  And then start working on building those qualities, in your self.

You get the drift:  the more we have those qualities in our own lives, the less we’ll feel the desperate need to find them in someone else.  And the less devastated we’ll feel when the other person goes away.

The other person going away is also a part of the process.

As I said, the divorce statistics don’t lie.  In our culture, nobody gets married with the idea that it’s for six months or a year, or maybe a three month contract with the option to renew.  It’s for a freaking lifetime.  Til death do us part.  

Which means that if you’re not RIGHT THERE AT MY BEDSIDE WHEN I CROAK at the age of 186, then you didn’t really love me, you bastard!  Uh, huh.

So . . . getting back to reality . . . as Hay said, all relationships eventually end, except for the one that we have with ourselves.  If we can get our heads around that reality and honestly say to ourselves, “I’m going to be with this person for a while,” then love gets a lot easier and relationships, paradoxically, become a lot more meaningful.

Because then we begin to really focus on why we’re with this person for this limited period of time and we don’t take it for granted that we’ve got forever to get it right.  

It also changes the meaning of what it means, “to get it right.”  Getting it right no longer means simple longevity.  It no longer means that our relationship with that person was somehow, “good,” just because we managed to hang in there through decades of not being heard or not being seen or not being loved back or putting up with a rotten sex life.

It shifts the focus to, “why are we here?”  We’re here, as two autonomous, strong, healthy human beings sharing our space, energy and love for this period of time – and that can be a month or sixty years – for a reason.  What lessons are we here to teach each other?  In what ways can we help each other grow?  In what ways can we support each other to evolve?

In other words, the relationship becomes a life lesson.  And when we’ve learned that lesson, class is over, we graduated, time to move on to another lesson.

There’s nothing inherently sad about that.  We’ve just been taught that it’s sad.  If we view the relationship as a life lesson, then we can be grateful to our ex-partners for what they taught us and for allowing us to teach them, and move on with gratitude and love in our hearts.

It ain’t easy.  The beliefs that love relationships are supposed to be permanent, that we’ve somehow failed if they aren’t, and that we should just go right back out and do the same stupid thing again, are so deeply ingrained in our culture that it takes a lot of conscious effort to pull out of them.

As Hay says, though, relationships ending is NORMAL AND NATURAL.  We don’t need to put up with a worn out relationship just to avoid the pain of the parting.  We’ve learned what we were supposed to learn.

I love her affirmation for ending relationships, which I shall keep near me in the future:  I bless you with love and I release you – you are free and I am free.

Yes.

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Finding Meaning With Synchronicity

I’ve really been getting into investigating synchronicity lately.  Which is probably totally appropriate because reading Tarot cards is all about synchronicity.  You shuffle the cards, you lay out a reading and somehow the Tarot tells you what’s going on in your life, what’s probably going to go on in your life, and what factors you should be paying attention to as you move forward.

There is absolutely NO logical reason why the Tarot should work, but it does work.  And when you get to a space in the Universe where something works for no particular reason, that’s the space where synchronicity lives.

For those of you who aren’t into synchronicity, it was a phenomenon that was first seriously documented by Carl Jung.  He noticed that some things seemed to happen together in a meaningful way, even though there was no direct cause and effect relationship.

The most commonly used example for that is that you’re thinking of a long lost friend you haven’t seen in years when suddenly the telephone rings and – shazam – it’s your friend.  The two events occurring at the same time are definitely linked but they defy logic because there’s no visible cause and effect relationship.  Scientifically minded people would label them as, “coincidences,” which is scientific short hand for, “I really don’t know what the fuck just happened.”

Now, I recently – and synchronistically – stumbled across a book called, The Power of Flow: Practical Ways to Transform Your Life with Meaningful Coincidence. I’d been thinking about synchronicity and how it worked and why it worked in the back of my mind.  I had pulled up an article on my tablet that was totally unrelated to that subject and, in the middle of the article, there was a reference to this wonderful book about synchronicity.

If you haven’t read the book, I really recommend it.  What’s been intriguing to me about its’ discussions is the idea that we can sort of cause synchronicity to happen.  Or, at the very least, we can set up our lives so that they are fertile fields for synchronicity.   Among other things that the author recommends are journaling, therapy, meditation, dreaming, basically anything that opens us up to Deep Mind.

One of those things that really leapt out at me, though, is INTENT.  Having the intention of having synchronistic experiences can increase the probability of them happening.  Or, perhaps I should say, “expectation.”  If you expect them to happen, they’re more likely to occur.

Well, I decided to put on my metaphysical-scientist hat and test that hypothesis using the most stringent experimental methods possible.  By which I mean, I went for a walk downtown.  I didn’t just go for a walk, though.  I went for a walk with the full expectation that the Universe was going to give me some sort of a sign, some sort of direction.  

I was actively looking for it.

And I immediately ran into three of the people I care most about in life.  Boom, boom, boom – there they were.  

I went back home and mulled that over.  It certainly seemed to have worked.  What were the odds that I’d immediately encounter those three people?  On the other hand, I thought, we live in a small town and people do run into each other.  On the third hand, I reflected, I’m an extreme, dedicated introvert.  I can go for weeks and not have the phone ring or have anyone knock on the door.  So. . . I step outside my boundaries for a change and there are my three friends.  Hmmmm . . .

 I repeated the experiment and went for another walk the next day.  And, boom, boom, boom, there were three more friends just like they’d been waiting for me to happen along.

Wonderfully weird, right?

And, if we’re able to stimulate the occurrence of synchronistic events by our intent or by our expectation that they are going to occur, then that establishes a direct link between what’s going on in our minds and what’s going on in the outside world.  Which is amazing.

Now, to be clear – WE ARE NOT ACTUALLY CAUSING THE SYNCHRONISTIC EVENTS.  They are occurring spontaneously with our intentions, but they aren’t mere reflections of our inner states.  Rather, it’s as if the Universe is responding to our inner states and giving us clues and pointing us in different directions.

In this particular instance, the inner state was my question, “Can you show me that synchronicity works?”  And the Universe responded, “Yep, we can arrange that.”  My friends, who, “appeared,” on my walk are all free, independent entities and I couldn’t MAKE them appear in any sense of the word, but the Universe could bend the rules a little bit and put us all in the same section of the same town at the same time.

In other words . . . there is something out there and we can have a dialogue with it about our lives.  You can conceptualize that any way that you want to.  You can call it spirit guides, angels, the universe, the Tao, being in The Flow,  Whatever it is, you can ask it a question and it will give you an answer.  “Hey, you’re puzzled about this, so look over there . . .”

When we really get into that framework, when we make that shift into realizing that we’re interacting with the Universe in a meaningful dialogue (we’re asking questions and we’re being given answers) it makes a HUGE difference in how we approach our lives.

Here’s how the authors of, “The Power of Flow,” put it:

“By using synchronicity for guidance, confirmation, and validation, people’s lives become a dance of energy with the Universe, a give and take with their environment that fills their days with insight and zest.”

Life, at that point, becomes a book that we know how to read and it’s  full of amazing answers.  As Albert Einstein put it:  “There are only two ways to look at life – as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is a miracle.”  With synchronicity, everything becomes a miracle.

Ulla Suokko, author of Signs of the Universe: A Practical Guide to Shift Your Story gave an amazing Ted Talk on the synchronicity that has occurred in her life.  She reiterated Einstein’s point but took it a bit further.  “Choose to live as if everything is a miracle.”

When we consciously make that choice to LOOK for the miraculous, it appears. We can talk to the Universe and it talks back. How cool is that?

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The Strength Card, Ahimsa, and Your Magical Anti Shit-Head Cloak

Rebuilding trust in relationships using the doctrine of Ahimsa

Have you ever been deeply, deeply hurt by another human being?

I’m not talking about someone, “hurting your feelings,” a phrase that we all use to describe occasional, usually minor, pain or unhappiness.  I’m talking about a deep, horrible, traumatic pain that feels like you may never recover from it. 

For example, finding out your lover is cheating on you and has been lying to you about it for some time.  Or, perhaps, your partner suddenly leaving you without even affording you a chance to process it.  Or realizing that the person you’re still madly in love with has fallen out of love with you.

There are really two elements there:  the first is the pain that you’re going through;  the second is a profound sense of betrayal, a feeling that your deepest trust has been violated.  Of the two, the sense of betrayal can be much, much harder to recover from.  The betrayal of trust can be world changing for us, in a very dark way.

It’s not at all unusual for people to withdraw from intimate connections with other humans after something like that.  Younger people may declare a hiatus on dating and say that they only want to be, “friends,” for a while.  Older people may pull into a thick, impenetrable shell and become totally socially isolated.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s our Deeper Self taking care of us.  That’s our Inner Wisdom saying, “You’ve been badly wounded.  You need to rest and cry and heal.”

There comes a time, though, when we may realize that we need to reconnect with the world.  Getting back out there can be scary and intimidating.  There are, after all, no guarantees that it won’t happen again.  If we loved someone with all of our heart, if we trusted someone with all of our being, and they betrayed us, how do we know that our trust and love won’t be misplaced again?  And if our judgement was so flawed, so . . . totally wrong . . . about the person we loved, how can we know that we won’t just make the same stupid mistakes with the next person?

We might find at least a partial solution in the Yogic doctrine of Ahimsa.  Ahimsa is the idea of total, complete, harmlessness.  It’s the idea that if we emanate a vibration of nothing but love, we can attract nothing but love.  We literally CANNOT attract aggression because we HAVE no aggression.

The Strength card from the Tarot is a wonderful image of this.  The woman in the card is gently closing the mouth of one of the most ferocious predators on the planet.  She’s almost caressing the lion, rather than trying to overpower it or force it in any way.  The lion is calm and peaceful because she’s living in the vibration of love and he’s responding on exactly the same vibration.

So what the fuck does that have to do with your lover ripping your heart out of your chest, stomping on it with hobnailed boots, and serving it to you on a Ritz cracker?  You might ask . . .

Part of the answer lies in the quality of the love that’s involved in Ahimsa.  Ahimsa involves absolute unconditional love.  In other words, there are no strings attached.  We’re not loving people because we expect to get something back.  We’re just loving them.  And that’s very unusual in our society.  Most of what we call, “love,” involves a definite quid pro quo.

If you don’t believe that, try telling people who are just acquaintances that you love them.  You’ll find that the usual reaction is something along the lines of, “Uh, huh . . . what do you want?”  I mean, if you’re saying you love me, you must want something, right?

When I look back on my deepest emotional wounds, I have to admit that a large part of the pain was based on the idea that I hadn’t been treated fairly.  I loved someone with everything I had and she walked away from that love and that JUST WASN’T RIGHT!  In other words, I had strings attached to my love.  Yes, I love you deeply THEREFORE you are supposed to love me back just as deeply and, if you don’t, you’ve betrayed my love.

All of that’s perfectly human.  Most of us are not Ram Dass or Mother Theresa or Saint Francis and we don’t just walk around with huge amounts of unconditional love bubbling out of us.  Most of us expect that if we make a deep emotional commitment to someone, it will be reciprocated.  And it hurts like hell when it isn’t.  Conditional love seems almost hard-wired into us and – if it isn’t – it’s sure as hell soft-wired with some big, thick cables.

The funny thing is, though, that unconditional love can be terrifically liberating.  If we go into relationships with the idea of, “I don’t want ANYTHING from you,”  it frees us from that whole expectation that we should be getting something back.  It frees us from constantly worrying about whether we’re being treated fairly or if the relationship is equitable or if the other person loves us just as much as we love them.

And it frees us of the probability of being hurt again, which is what this post is all about.

Sticking our toes back in the relationship water can be scary as hell if we’ve been deeply, deeply hurt in the past.  But if we can consciously remove that idea that we’re always supposed to get some sort of an emotional payoff from our relationships,  if we can consciously stay in that state of openness and love WITHOUT WANTING ANYTHING BACK, we effectively remove the other person’s power to hurt us.

That’s a hard concept to grasp.  I know it’s been hard for me, but it works.

Now, if all of that doesn’t work for you, if all of the reasons for unconditional love I just talked about don’t ring your chimes, then just think of it as a Magical Shield to protect you when you’re moving out into the relationship world again.  The more you can keep your heart in unconditional love, the more likely you are to attract people who are in the same vibration.

Put another way, the more you can live in unconditional love, the less likely you are to attract shit-heads and narcissists.

You remember the Invisibility Cloak in Harry Potter?  When he put it on, he could walk right past people without being seen.  In the same sense, if you’re living in Ahimsa, if you’re keeping that no-strings-attached love in your heart, you can walk right past the shit-heads and THEY WON’T EVEN KNOW YOU’RE THERE because you’re wearing your Magical Anti Shit-Head Cloak.

“All you need is love,”  – The Beatles.

Spring Equinox, the Four of Wands, and the Spiritual Joy of Chocolate Covered Bunnies

Exploring the lost – and found – joy of spirituality.

I haven’t celebrated easter in a very long time.  I’m not a christian, so I don’t feel any particular connection there.  I was also reared as a catholic, so there may actually still be a little subconscious hostility left over as a result of recovering from that heritage.  

This year, though, I decided that I was really going to celebrate the Spring Equinox.  I won’t belabor the fact that the christian churches never met a pagan holiday that they didn’t steal or co-opt, and that easter is obviously a take-over of the celebration of Spring.  We all know that.  What I hadn’t really consciously flashed on, though, was that I was letting the christian holiday interfere with MY holiday in more ways than one.

It’s been a bitch of a year and a bitch of a winter, not just for me but for the entire world.  There’s been a lot of death, a lot of depression, a lot of darkness and craziness and it’s gone on for a very long time.  So when the first golden daffodil started popping open this year, I could feel in my very bones that I wanted to celebrate.  I wanted to embrace that light with everything I had.

I decided to build a Spring Equinox altar.  That, along with incense and candles, is one of the few positive things about growing up catholic.  I’ll build an altar anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a freaking hat.  And then I’ll stick candles on it and get some incense burning, by Goddess.

I spent hours cruising through our local stores, purchasing the, “ingredients,” for my little shrine to Spring.  As usual, Dollar General was a treasure trove for low priced holiday decorations.  I bought glittery eggs and plaster bunny rabbits for fertility symbols.  Candles and chrysanthemums and sea shells.  Virgin of Guadalupe’ votives to represent the Goddess. And more bunnies. I went home and dug out my crystals and my pentagrams and my chalice and athame’, and began assembling the altar.

About half way through the process I realized that I was having a hell of a good time.  I actually found myself laughing out loud as I arranged the items on an old coffee table and rearranged them and rearranged them again.  I put my statues of Tara and Quan Yin in the center of the table, strung white christmas lights around the shrine, lit incense, and laughed some more.

It was fun!

And it really hit me like a hammer:  organized religions didn’t just steal our holidays, they stole our fun.  They took every single pagan holiday, turned it something dark and solemn and serious, and systematically tried to wring every bit of joy and laughter out of it.

Easter is a prime example of that.  The pagan celebrations of Spring had a HUGE amount of fun attached to them.  Much like the Four of Wands, there was dancing, drinking, revelry and the people who were doing the celebrating didn’t just eat chocolate bunnies, they fucked like bunnies.  A LOT.

And then along came organized religion.  Suddenly the celebration of Spring was all about death.  All about a very kind – and perhaps fictional – man being tortured, crucified and killed.  And, yes, I know that christians like to say that easter is all about re-birth, all about christ rising from the tomb, but it’s really not.  It’s about death.  

It’s like they took my beautiful, golden daffodil and threw a bucket of blood on it.

There’s been that same strange dance between pagan joy and organized religion for centuries and I’d have to say that – all in all – we pagans are winning.  Organized religion took over the mid-winter festival and declared that it was the birthday of Jesus, a very solemn occasion, doncha know?  We countered with christmas trees and presents and twinkling lights.  Organized religion took over our festival celebrating the end of the season of light and declared that it was, “All Souls Day.”  We came right back and said, “Nope, it’s Halloween – break out the masks and candy!”

They said, “Easter,” and we replied, “Chocolate Bunnies!”

The point is that you can’t repress the joy of true spirituality.  William James pointed that out in The Varieties of Religious Experience a long time ago.  The hallmarks of someone who has had a true spiritual experience are joy, compassion and love.  

To put it another way, if we’re not having some FUN with our religions, we’re not connecting with any sort of spirituality AT ALL.  If we’re afraid to laugh in church, we’re in the wrong church.

So this year I’m starting again.  Like my little Spring Equinox altar, I’m assembling the, “ingredients,” of my spirituality.  They will include feathers and crystals and bells and, yes, some chocolate bunnies. And I may rearrange them and then rearrange them again, but I’ll be laughing while I do it.

Wishing you a joy-FULL Spring Equinox and BIG smiles.

Psychic Empathy, Boundary Violations, and Deep Sadness

I have struggled with being a psychic empath for most of my adult life and probably a good portion of my childhood.  I don’t much discuss it with other people because most people can’t comprehend the sensations that psychic empaths deal with on a daily basis.  There’s just no point in it.

Now, just to be clear, most of the ideas that people have about psychic empaths are garbage.  There’s a Hollywood image of someone, “picking up,” crystal clear messages out of the ether, making astonishing predictions about the future, or having amazing insights about other people’s thoughts.  The truth of the matter is that living with those, “gifts,” frequently feels like pure chaos. 

INSIDE AND OUTSIDE

As near as I can tell, most people have a very clearly defined sense of inside versus outside, both in terms of their bodies and their emotions.  In other words, they have an innate sense of, “I’m in here, and you’re over there.”

To a large extent, that sense of differentiation doesn’t exist for psychic empaths.  We can, “feel,” other people’s energy, their moods, their emotions, their private thoughts just as if they were expressing them out loud.  Sometimes – especially with people we love or have some other strong bond with – we can feel their energy from a very great distance.  We somehow know when people we care about are upset, depressed, or in trouble.  We also know when they’re happy, joyful.

That’s not unheard of, even for normal people.  Many people have had the experience of thinking of someone that they haven’t heard from for years, when suddenly the phone rings and it’s that person.  It happens.  Now try to imagine if it happened to you every single day.  At a certain point, the psychic empath will begin to feel like a sponge, like we don’t know which energy is ours and which energy belongs to other people.  It can be very confusing:  why am I suddenly terribly depressed?  Is it me or is it that someone else’s energy?

EMPATHS VERSUS PSYCHIC EMPATHS

Claiming to be an, “empath,” has gotten to be kind of trendy.  There are articles about it all over the internet and I guess it’s a way of saying, “Hey, I’m a really sensitive, caring person.”  Which is cool.  We LIKE sensitive caring people.  But there is a major difference between empaths and psychic empaths.  It all exists on a spectrum, so imagine a straight line with different points on it.

A ———-B———C———D

At point A you find people with NO empathy at all:  sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths.  At point B, you find, “normal,” people with some empathy but clearly defined and sometimes rigid boundaries between themselves and other people.  At point C, you’d find emotional empaths, who are people who can STRONGLY (and emotionally) identify with other people’s feelings.  At point D, you’d find psychic empaths who actually experience other people’s emotional energy as being mixed in with their own, frequently on an involuntary basis.

And, “involuntary,” is the salient word.  Contrary to the fictionalized image of the psychic, most psychics don’t intentionally, consciously, “tune into,” other people’s emotions and thoughts.  It’s just something that happens as a part of our innate make up.  It’s what we do, whether we like it or not.

BEING PSYCHIC VERSUS BEING HYPER-VIGILANT

People who grew up in highly abusive households, people who have suffered spousal abuse, people who have been in combat, and people who have extremely high stress jobs tend to become hyper-vigilant.  What that means is that they are in a nearly constant, “fight or flight,” reaction.  They have become so habituated to living in a dangerous environment that they are constantly, “scanning,” for any signs of threats.  They are in a constant reactive mode. 

Hyper-vigilance – that scanning for danger – can occur at such an amazingly rapid rate that it almost appears to be psychic.  People who are hyper-vigilant are taking in and processing cues from their environment at a speed that’s nearly incomprehensible to a, “normal,” person.  That’s how they survived in surroundings that were fraught with danger, by being extremely sensitive to the slightest nuances of what’s going on around them.

The difference between being hyper-vigilant behavior and psychic behavior may actually look blurry to an outsider.  Hyper-vigilant behavior, though, is learned, adaptive, behavior and psychic behavior is something that you’re born with.  The difference can get even blurrier because people who are psychic will frequently become hyper-vigilant as a result of being so open to other people’s energy.

BOUNDARIES:  BEING VIOLATED AND VIOLATING

If you do a quick survey of articles on the internet about empaths you’ll find that boundaries are a big issue.  Most of the articles and books out there are oriented toward helping empaths have stronger personal boundaries.  If you’re highly empathic – much less psychically empathic – keeping your energy and your emotions separated from other people’s energies and emotions can be a huge challenge.

I’ve recently become aware of a different aspect of that, though, which is that, “normal,” people frequently feel that their boundaries are being violated by psychic empaths.  And I don’t really know why it hadn’t occurred to me before.

To a large extent, all I can do is to describe it from my side of the experience.  When I sit down across from someone, I feel almost bombarded with energetic and emotional impressions.  I’m not just listening to their words and reading their body language and facial expressions, I’m processing – frequently on a subconscious level – a whole array of vibrations that they’re emanating.

While I’m doing that, it can be difficult to keep what I’m picking up on a psychic level separate from what the person is telling me verbally.  And inadvertently responding to the unspoken psychic content can make the other person feel personally violated.

Let me give you an example.  Suppose a psychic empath is sitting down having a nice chat with a stranger about the weather.  Unbeknownst to the empath, the person they’re chatting with has been having a lot of emotional issues with a romantic relationship she’s involved in.  So the conversation might go something like:

“Nice weather we’re having.”

“Yes, but they say it might rain.”

“You never can tell this time of the year.”

“Yeah, the weatherman always seems to get it wrong.  What’s up with your boyfriend yelling at you?”

And, NO, the stranger is NOT going to say, “Oh, gee, you must be psychic!”  They’re going to say, “That’s personal and it’s none of your damned business.” And then they’re going to feel creeped out.

The point is that the psychic empath wasn’t trying to intrude.  He wasn’t meaning to pick up on something that’s a deeply private issue to the other person – it just happens.  Psychics pick it up and it pops out of our mouths. And, yes, it can feel very much like a boundary violation to the person who just got, “read.”  (Interestingly, I’ve only been able to find one article that addresses this issue.  It’s called, “Hey, Don’t Read My Mind,” though it might as well be called, “Don’t Read My Mind, Goddamnit!”)

BEING PSYCHIC AND BEING ALIENATED

I realized as I was writing this post that I was feeling an immense sense of sadness.  There are virtually no people out there that psychic empaths can talk to about these issues.  It’s paradoxical:  being highly empathetic almost always leads to a sense of being highly alienated.  The longer you live, the more aware you become of the fact that you are fundamentally different from the majority of people you will encounter in life.  The more that you authentically honor your own nature – the very way that you were born – the less you feel that you will ever belong.

I’m not offering this little post in the hope that most people will understand what I’m trying to say.  Rather, I’m putting it out there for other people who are dealing with the same experiences and feel that no one understands.

You are not alone.